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Santo Tomas Jalietza

Charming and rustic, Santo Tomas Jalietza is one of many small artisan pueblos in the Oaxaca City region. Head south from Oaxaca City on Route 175, pass San Bartolo Coyotepec (or stop for a peek to see its famous black clay pottery) and San Martin Tilcajete and you’ll hit the quaint cotton weaving town. Although smaller and less visited than other local pueblos such as Mitla, Teotitlan Del Valle, or Villa De Etla, Santo Tomas is no less enjoyable and definitely worth a visit.

The women of San Tomas (as it is nicknamed) for generations have been weaving colorful and beautiful cotton textiles. Designed and hand-woven by these women, the town’s open air pavilion houses an abundant of table cloths, pants, blouses, sun dresses, scarves, handbags, wallets and belts. Cotton is spun daily and weaved with pre-Hispanic waist looms.Ladies gather in the pavilion daily to weave. It’s not all for show either, as the town fails for no real reason to attract large numbers of visitors.

These women who work in the pavilion sell their items in a cooperative style (all items have a set price no matter which vendor you ask). Encircling the outside of the Pavilion, several other cotton shops are run by locals who work in their homes. These shops, while not crafting as unique items as the pavilion women, are more than willing to bargain and often have a larger stock. Most weavers in Santo Tomas head to Oaxaca weekly to sell their items.

Overall, any item bought—whether at the pavilion or from a shop owner—is much cheaper and more varied here than in the city of Oaxaca. So if you’re a textile lover and your interested in meeting some fascinating natives off of the gringo trail, just hop a bus or take a collectivo and head south on Route 175. But be warned, considering its such a small pueblo, signs do not pop up before you hit the town, so when you see the town and its name, be sure to get off quick.

07 Dec 2006

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